Emma Donoghue's Room - A fantastic Book, An Amazing Film
This is one of the most memorable books I have ever read and although I finished it in 2010, I can still remember it in so much detail as it affected me so deeply. I have was so struck with Donoghue's ability to write about such a sinister situation in a way which wasn't voyeuristic or gratuitous but sensitive, poignant and very moving. She uses her novel as an opportunity to reflect on more than just the crime which gives the book depth and credibility as a writer.
It takes real skill to captivate an audience, particularly with this sort of topic, and Donoghue certainly has this skill. I read this book in one sitting - at times reading so fast that my eyes were taking in the words quicker than my brain could process them. I was totally mesmerised. It is compulsive reading.
Most of my friends have read this book (and all rated it 5 stars - unheard of for us all to agree so unanimously!) but there are a few who are put off by the premise - I don't think it's a spoiler to say what that premise is anymore - of a boy and his mother being held captive in a shed. However, I would argue that this is only half of what the novel is about. What makes this book stand out from any other psychological thriller or crime novel is that a lot of the story is an exploration of life after "Room"; a life in which Joy, the mother, thinks everything will be resolved and happy so desperate is she to escape. In fact, it is almost as hell-like as life in the Room. Donoghue's thorough consideration and meticulous detail of all that Jack and his mum have to adapt to and cope with is fascinating. It raises so many thought provoking questions and discussions. It is handled with sensitivity and exceptionally well written. The portrayal of the parents and their limitations, struggles and emotions are so well captured that their plight is almost as moving and distressing as Joy and Jack's.
Joy is inspirational. She is so young and been locked away for so much of her own life and yet shows so much patience, resilience and practical understanding of how to build a life and protect her son from the horrific reality of their existence. The imaginative way in which she has explained the world to Jack is so admirable, as is her ability to entertain him for hours and hours and hours with nothing.
Jack is equally engaging. As the five year old narrator, he is able to lift the tension and atmosphere a little and provide a some distance from the more sinister details. Donoghue has created a clever voice and an innovative way to show how limited his life experience is and the social and educational effects of only being exposed to one other person and such a restricted living space.
This book is full of tension, drama, emotion and wonderful observations about life. If somehow you haven't read it yet then I would highly recommend you get hold of a copy soon!
I must admit I did have reservations about going to see this at the cinema. When you have enjoyed a book so much there is always the risk that it won't live up to your expectations. I was unsure how the text would adapt to the screen and if it would work on the same number of levels. The book has been such a runaway success and so much hype surrounded the film I was curious how it would handle itself. To be honest, part of me wondered if I really wanted to spend a Sunday evening watching a harrowing film which deals with abuse and depression!
I am so glad that I have seen it.
If you only see one film this year, make it this one. If you only discover one actress this year, make it Brie Larson.
It is a powerful, mesmerising and completely overwhelming film. It captures the characters well and they are as convincing on screen as on paper. The acting is outstanding from each member of the cast. It captures the atmosphere, tension, emotion and poignancy of the book. The most dramatic scenes are handled with sensitivity and have as much dramatic impact as when reading. I was as gripped as I had been six years ago when I read it for the first time and once again it stimulated all sorts of questions, thoughts and reflections leaving me desperate to talk about it all over again.
As did the book, this film will stay with me. It may not be the easiest thing to watch this year but I think it will be the best.
OTHER NOVELS BY EMMA DONOGHUE I RECOMMEND
A slammerkin is a loose gown and this story is all about a loose woman with a desire to touch lovely fabrics. It is set in 17th Century London and is highly evocative of the era with brilliant historical detail and another engaging, well crafted female character.
"The Sealed Letter"
This is a courtroom drama about adultery, rape and a mysterious letter. It is based on a real divorce case from 1864. It is a riveting read which again evokes a convincing portrayal of the historical era in which it is set. It is very readable and there are several good twists.
OTHER FILM ADAPTATIONS OF GOOD BOOKS CURRENTLY SHOWING IN THE CINEMA
"The Danish Girl"
....and if you missed them, I thought these adaptations were very true to their originals and really enjoyable - "The Help" and "Sarah's Key"
Jojo Moyes "Me Before You" comes to our screens in the summer which will surely be another blockbusting hit - I'm hoping to read it before I see it!
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